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Symantec Taps Interim Chief For Permanent CEO Post

Symantec, which has gone through multiple CEOs in the last two-and-a-half years and has seen a big turnover in its channel executives, could be in for some stability with the appointment of its interim president and CEO to the top spot permanently.

Michael Brown

Symantec's Board of Directors on Thursday named Michael Brown the company's new CEO.

Brown, who since March has served as interim president and CEO, takes over the company at a time of executive instability.

Brown joined Symantec's Board of Directors in 2005 in the wake of Symantec's acquisition of Veritas. His appointment to the interim CEO post came a week after Symantec fired its previous CEO Steve Bennett who was in the midst of overhauling the company's product and go-to-market approach as part of a strategy called Symantec 4.0.

[Related: Symantec's New Strategy Includes Layoffs, Partner Programs]

Bennett took the reigns at Symantec in July of 2012 after his predecessor Enrique Salem was fired.

Hopefully the appointment of a new CEO will help Symantec overcome some of the trials and tribulations it has faced over the past few years, said Don James, CEO of Bear Data Solutions, a San Francisco-based solution provider and long-time Symantec partner on both the storage and security sides of the vendor.

Symantec has seen more than its share of changes on the channel and sales side, James told CRN. This includes a big change in its western region sales team and the disappearance of key people in its national team and inside sales team.

"Sometimes no one from Symantec calls on you," he said.

Two channel chiefs are among those who have left recently.

Symantec worldwide channel chief Garrett Jones, who helped architect many of the company's channel program changes in recent months, left in June to spearhead the development of a channel program at cloud-based services backup startup Spanning, based in Austin, Texas.

He was followed in August by Symantec Channel Chief John Eldh, who oversaw many of the latest changes to the company's channel programs during a period of tumultuous change to its internal sales team.

James said he would like to see Symantec do more to partner with its channel community and find better ways to embrace solution providers as it did in the past.

"Symantec did well 10 years ago," he said. "But there have been issues the last four to five years. But just because it has a permanent CEO doesn't necessarily make a big difference. The company needs to make sure it institutes the right moves to help itself and its channel."

Symantec was unable to provide further comment on Brown's appointment as of press time.

However, Symantec Chairman Dan Schulman, said in a prepared statement that Brown has created new momentum for Symantec's business while making "significant" improvements to its operational and financial performance.

"Most importantly, he demonstrated vision and creativity as he has worked with the Board and the management team to develop a strategic plan based on focused investment and innovation in key areas of high customer need. With this appointment, the Board looks forward to working with Mike to bring this vision to reality and to continue Symantec’s momentum," Schulman said in the statement.

Symantec said Brown was one of over 100 qualified candidates for the CEO position looked at during its executive search process, and one of over 30 who were actively vetted.

Rob Westervelt contributed to this story.


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